So how do the Matrox Parhelia and ViewSonic VP2290b work in unison to generate a massive 3,840 x 2,400 desktop display? Well, basically the Parhelia can output either four 960 x 2,400 resolutions in a vertical striped formation that are then synchronised or “genlocked” together to form a maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,400. This explains the need for two LFH-60 connectors which support two DVI channels each, that ultimately give rise to the four channels needed to compile the display’s resolution at a full refresh rate of 41Hz. The Parhelia card can also generate four 1,920 x 1,200 tiled rectangles or even two 1,920 x 2,400 that can be genlocked into the full resolution, but with the latter the refresh rate of the display falls to a lowly 25Hz. Also, using the four tile configuration would mean having to lock both horizontal and vertical planes around the edges of each tile, rather than just three vertical stripes.
Talking of refresh rate, a rate of 41Hz in a CRT would be extremely flickery and could in no doubt cause eye strain. However, with an LCD the technology is different in that it does not rely on phosphor where its low persistence between screen refreshes can result in flicker. The effects of a low refresh rate on an LCD monitor will only really be an issue when the pixels on the screen are updated at a rate per second that’s similar or less than, for example, the frames per second of a moving image.
What can be an issue, however, is liquid crystal response time and in the VP2290b’s case this comes in at 50ms (25ms rise, 25ms fall). At this speed, movement portrayed on the screen did smear which might be an issue for those where video editing and gaming is important. That said, the VP2290b hasn’t really been designed with this sort of use in mind and its true focus is more about static image editing and, as I found out, this monitor truly excels at this.
In an attempt to judge image quality, I tried to fire up Displaymate but soon found out that the software didn’t support the VP2290b’s impressive resolution. I did however drop the resolution down to 1,900 x 1,200 and was suitably impressed with the smoothly graduated colour ramps and greyscales. This monitor is also a true 8-bit, 16.7million colour display so there’s no need for dithering here in order to display a full and wide colour gamut.
As for viewing my test images on the screen I was quite simply bowled over. At 204 pixels per inch this display has pretty much matched the quality you’d expect from a standard photographic print viewed at normal distances. In fact, the RGB sub-pixels were so small that I could only appreciate their unusual zigzagging clustered arrangement by using a small eye scope pressed against the panel itself.
With this manufacturing finesse, I could easily make out the hairs on the cows head in one of the test shots, whereas skin tones and the overall look of our images appeared very true to life. The overall brightness may not be the highest I’ve seen at 235cd/m2, but there’s enough illumination there for it not to be a problem. A 400:1 contrast ratio also saw the VP2290b bring out enough detail to satisfy me, especially in areas of strong shadow. Viewing angles in both the horizontal and vertical planes were also very impressive with only a slight drop in illumination coming into effect when looking at the screen at almost 85 degrees from centre. Better still was the fact that I could not detect a colour shift when viewing the screen from these angles both up and down and from side to side.